Is there anyone out here in cyberspace who hasn’t seen the movie, The Shining? There’s probably a few. Out of the ones who have seen it though, I bet most think of Jack Nicholson as being the villain. But, as a writer, I would label him as a victim and can identify with his character in this movie. Jack Torrance (Nicholson’s character) is a writer, after all. Shelley Duvall’s character, Wendy keeps on looking in on him during his writing sessions, driving him batty. He’s having enough of a struggle with a story idea he isn’t sure is worth the struggle of pursuing. I can understand how he got to the point where he went insane.
My difficulties aren’t quite as maddening as Jack’s were. My son is in his forties and lives three states away from me. He isn’t a bother at all. I don’t have any other job I need to do other than the normal chores around the house. Actually, the tasks give me some exercise in between writing sessions. And I don’t feel stranded within my surroundings like the Torrance family did.
Even so, I have personal obligations I feel must be met. It never seems to fail. These duties arise when my momentum is up for writing. Does this happen to you? I’ll be thinking about just the right way to make a scene work when the obligation comes up and I must leave my keyboard to take care of it. They interfere with my line of thought, screwing up the whole project.
Jack had Wendy to deal with. She didn’t mean to be exasperating. Still, that’s exactly what she was. Jack would be going at a good steady clip at the typewriter when Wendy would come waltzing through the lobby where he had set himself up spilling out question after question at him. I have a spouse who is having a terrible time stopping himself from being a nuisance more or less in the same way. He doesn’t mean to be a pain and lately, he’s actually needed my attention because of recent health issues. Still, he doesn’t require my undivided support 24/7, does he? No, I don’t believe so.
Yes, he is my albatross more often than I want to deal with but I love him, so I continue to bite my tongue when he disturbs my writing. I also have an inner pest. Doubt.
After taking some time to think about the precariousness of my muse, Melpomene, I wonder why I don’t just fire her. When I’m thinking about my writing, she’s enthusiastic and so very helpful. Yet, within five minutes of my fingers thumping on the keys, she’s throwing a heavy fog into my focused thinking making me work three times as hard to get short distances in my endeavor. Yes, I know there are plenty of other writers who have this same problem. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Although I think often of firing my muse, I know I won’t because without her I probably would give up writing altogether.
I’ve seen the tracks of so many writers out here in cyberspace trying to find the best way to write. I’ve seen them because I’ve been trudging along the same path for quite a while now. There are only a few writers, if any, who can afford to try all the software out there that pledges to make writing simpler and easier.
I have yet to find the program that can legitimately make good on their word—at least to my satisfaction.
Sure, Scrivener has all those bells and whistles that so many writers seem to want. I wanted them too for a long time. As anticipated, I couldn’t afford the program so I went with yWriter, which isn’t a bad choice either. But I discovered something as I used this program. I was being cunningly distracted by all the slots where I could put information. It would have been the same or worse in Scrivener. There’s a slot for character profiles, setting summaries, scene outlines, a storyboard, and the list goes on.
Then SmartEdit came out with their own Writer. I looked it over and ended up downloading it because, again, it had some bells and whistles. In addition to the slots I mention above, it also had a copy edit feature. It’s a pretty extensive one too. All the same, just the thought of it being just a click away made me look sideways when I should have been focusing on the writing task at hand.
Jacqui Murray, someone who has been giving me sound advice and tips for several years, uses Google Docs for her writing. I debated whether to follow her lead a few times on the matter of writing software. Eventually, though, I decided I didn’t want my word processor online. But her idea led to me wondering if the word processor I had chosen could do the things Google Docs can do.
I’m using Libre’s Writer these days to write my blog posts. It sits offline in my toolbar tray ready to use at any time. Actually, I have the whole LibreOffice, although I rarely use the other programs in it. It’s the Open Source version of Microsoft’s Office.
Anyway, The Libre site has a section filled with extensions for all the programs in the Office suite. I can pick and choose which ones are going to be of help to me. One of these extensions is LanguageTool. It does pretty much the same thing as SmartEditor, pointing out the errors in grammar and spelling. Additionally, the word processor has a dictionary and thesaurus. True, these mentioned extensions aren’t as powerful as SmartEdit. So I’ve kept the SmartEdit Writer for the purpose of deep-cleaning my manuscripts before I send them to a professional editor.
The point I’m dancing around is this: Although having the bells and whistle in a program can make you feel as though you’re being super productive, sometimes what you have is a pile of distractions.
conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the
outcome, not the obstacles.”
― T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with “The Divine Presence”
I hope your Halloween is full of fun and without any tragic incidences.